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Obama's book tour doubles as a warning about 'deeply divided' media landscape – CNN

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When Barack Obama and his editors at Penguin Random House’s Crown Publishing picked this week to publish the first volume of his memoirs, “A Promised Land,” they hoped that the election results would be clear, that Obama’s vice president Joe Biden would be busy with transition work, and that there wouldn’t be any widespread unrest.
They turned out to be right on all three counts: Tuesday is a wide-open launchpad for Obama’s book, which is expected to be the best-selling title of the year, just as Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” was in 2018.
But they also expected that Obama and the memoir would be competing for attention with President Trump, and that’s true too. Trump is continuing to thrash around on Twitter, saying “I concede nothing” and spreading lies about widespread fraud. So Obama’s interviews and public appearances are about his time in office, yes, but they’re also about Trump’s misconduct, and about whether Biden will be able to restore any normalcy. Judging from his comments so far, Obama is clearly concerned that the information universe has changed in ways that are destabilizing to democracy. Let’s take a look…

“The single biggest threat to our democracy”

On Monday morning The Atlantic is publishing Jeffrey Goldberg’s wide-ranging interview with Obama. In it, Obama talks about the “common narrative” provided by past anchors like Walter Cronkite, back when broadcast towers and printing presses limited who could be heard and when.
“I come out of this book very worried about the degree to which we do not have a common baseline of fact and a common story,” he told Goldberg. “We don’t have a Walter Cronkite describing the tragedy of Kennedy’s assassination but also saying to supporters and detractors alike of the Vietnam War that this is not going the way the generals and the White House are telling us. Without this common narrative democracy becomes very tough.”
Later in the interview, Goldberg asked, “Is this new malevolent information architecture bending the moral arc away from justice?”
“I think it is the single biggest threat to our democracy,” Obama said. “I think Donald Trump is a creature of this, but he did not create it. He may be an accelerant of it, but it preceded him and will outlast him. I am deeply troubled by how we address it.”

The genie is gone

In the interview, Obama exhibited his familiarity with nightmares like QAnon and a realist attitude toward the near-future. “You can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” he told Goldberg. “You’re not going to eliminate the internet, you’re not going to eliminate the thousand stations on the air with niche viewerships designed for every political preference. Without this it becomes very difficult for us to tackle big things. It becomes hard for us to say, ‘Hey, we have a pandemic here, it’s deadly; it’s serious; let’s put partisanship aside; let’s listen to Anthony Fauci because he’s been studying stuff like this for a long time. We may not get everything exactly right, because science works iteratively, but let’s hew as closely as we can to the science. Let’s do what science tells us to do to save lives.’ That becomes harder to do.”

Obama’s other interviews

His sit-down with Gayle King aired on “CBS Sunday Morning.” She asked, “Seventy-two million people voted for Donald Trump. What does that say to you about the state of this country?”
“Well, what it says is that we are still deeply divided,” Obama said. “The power of that alternative worldview that’s presented in the media that those voters consume, it carries a lot of weight.”
The media also came up repeatedly in Obama’s interview with Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes.” This quote stood out: “I think we’re going to have to work with the media and with the tech companies to find ways to inform the public better about the issues and to — bolster the standards that ensure we can separate truth from fiction. I think that we have to work at a local level.” He’s right that the local level is “where we have to start in terms of rebuilding the social trust we need for democracy to work.”
>> Coming up: Obama’s next interview is with NPR’s Michel Martin… Excerpts will air throughout the day on Monday…
>> Oprah Winfrey’s conversation with the former POTUS will come out on Apple TV+ on Tuesday…

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Working in the media but not in 'the media' – Western Producer

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Working in the media but not in ‘the media’  Western Producer



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Given the lack of civility, better to call it antisocial media – ObserverXtra

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Given the lack of civility, better to call it antisocial media – OBSERVER



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Accountability | The media is not the church's enemy – National Catholic Reporter

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As the U.S. bishops gathered last month for their first-ever virtual meeting, there was one thing that wasn’t all that different: Several prelates pulled out the tired trope of blaming the media for all that’s wrong with the church and the world.

During the church leaders’ brief, public discussion about the McCarrick report — concerning the former cardinal’s rise in the hierarchy despite a history of sexual assault — there was plenty of talk about sins (McCarrick’s) and fasting and prayer as reparations (the bishops’).

But Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, got right to what he saw as the crux of the matter with a defense of the person upon whom the report places most of the blame: Pope John Paul II.

“What I think is unfortunate, though, is the media reports that have come out that have tried to paint St. John Paul II as somehow culpable for all this,” Paprocki said.

The Vatican report details how the late pope and now saint, despite warnings from advisers on both sides of the Atlantic, approved then-Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s move to Washington D.C., and then later made him a cardinal.

But Paprocki cited footnotes in the report that, in his mind, absolved his hero of having turned a blind eye to the fact that McCarrick shared a bed with seminarians — noting that his evidence was “contrary to the allegations in the media.”

Paprocki suggested that the media “understandably perhaps” missed those footnotes because they read only the executive summary, rather than the full 400-plus-page report.

For the record: Although Vatican correspondent Joshua McElwee’s initial reporting for NCR drew only on the executive summary, provided to media an hour before the report’s wider release, McElwee’s second-day story, which detailed John Paul II’s complicity, was based on careful reading of the entire report.

Bishop Michael Pfeifer, emeritus of San Angelo, Texas, also expressed concern that “our lay people … pick up more from the secular media than from the church.” He urged fellow bishops to issue a statement from the meeting, “humbly admitting mistakes were made,” but the conference’s president, Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, did not take him up on that idea.

Also taking a swipe at the media was the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, who included the “press” as among those contributing to a “genuine crisis of authority” in his address to the conference.

“There is a lack of authority on the part of those who pretend to exercise power; a lack of trust and belief in those who are supposed to have authority, namely those in leadership; and manipulation by the press, which, at times, cares little for the truth but which erodes the confidence and trust of the people in the authority of the press,” Pierre said. “No one seems to be offering real values or solutions to bring about healing. These factors have created the crisis in both society and the church.”

It’s true that there are so-called media outlets masquerading as legitimate news organizations in the church (I’m talking to you, LifeSiteNews), but these general indictments of “the media” by bishops sadly echo a certain soon-to-be-ex-president, who specialized in yelling “Fake news!” whenever the news was bad.

The bishops, collectively at least, also have a history of blaming the media, most notably when journalists uncovered sexual abuse of children and the related coverup by bishops. At the time, the prelates hurled accusations of anti-Catholicism at reporters who were actually doing the church a favor by exposing its weaknesses.

Today, most bishops know to avoid such blatant deflection, and they publicly call for “accountability” and “transparency.” Some bishops at the November virtual meeting called for more sunshine, rather than less.

Bishop William Wack of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, noted that he is “amazed at the autonomy we have … that we are really beholden to no one.”

While Wack called for fraternal correction among brother bishops, the media, too, can play a role in holding leadership accountable and providing transparency. It’s why the media is historically referred to as the “fourth estate” for its role in keeping government accountable. Catholic media, especially independent sources like NCR, have long played a similar role in keeping the church accountable.

For example, it was NCR and other secular media that first alerted everyday church-goers to sexual predators in the priesthood — when the leadership was more interested in quashing that information. Media stories have uncovered the coverup of sexual abuse, shed light on financial improprieties and exposed hidden money in church organizations.

But too often church leaders think the media — perhaps especially Catholic media — should be acting as public relations promoters for the church. Several bishops at the November meeting expressed a desire to “make sure people know about” the positive moves by church leadership to address sex abuse, as Newark, New Jersey, Cardinal Joseph Tobin put it. Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich also hoped that “word will get out there that we are on the side of the victims.”

Yes, media outlets need to tell the whole truth, the good news as well as the bad. But as professional journalists, we also have to respect news values in our coverage, and often that involves some sort of conflict. As I used to tell my journalism students that everyone getting along is nice, but it’s not news.

In his comments calling for transparency, Bishop Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Missouri, may have inadvertently promoted the work of journalists.

“We as a church need to use all the resources that are available to us, and in many instances that will be found in lay people, who are skilled and qualified in investigating these kinds of accusations and helping us evaluate the facts,” he said.

Exactly. The media are not the enemy. We are professionals, trying to do our jobs, in the service of the truth.

[Heidi Schlumpf is NCR executive editor. Her email address is hschlumpf@ncronline.org. Follow her on Twitter: @HeidiSchlumpf.]

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